Fire Ant Control Question and Answers

Fire Ant Pest Control, Question and AnswerQuestion:

I generally use granular bait for ant control both indoors and out. But I have a customer with a large (close to an acre) area behind the main back yard. The area was used as a horse pasture / riding area, but no horses now. It’s got significant pressure from ants. Some of the mounds are visible, but many are not due to the short grass. The pasture gets flood irrigated regularly. I was wondering about the effectivness of using something like Talstar PL on this large area. It would be easier to spread than the very light bait granule and would be watered in. I think the bait would work given enough time before watering, but it’s more difficult to apply and considerably more costly. What are your thoughts… Thanks – Mike, AZ


You are in Arizona, so there is a chance that you are talking about Red Imported Fire Ants?? The mounds and the number and their presence in the pasture are all consistent for RIFA. These obviously have proven to be very difficult ants to control, and baiting has been one of the best methods so far. An acceptable bait runs the best chance of killing entire colonies of the ants, but even if you eliminate them all the area would likely be repopulated by pressure from colonies outside the area looking to expand. The wide variety of ant baits available now at least gives us a better choice, and one of the newest that seems to be highly successful is Advion Fire Ant Bait, which may give faster kill of the colony than some of its predecessors.

I wouldn’t abandon the effort at using bait, but perhaps combine it with granules and even mound injection if that is an option. Ant control is difficult enough, and RIFA just raises the bar, giving us the need to use multiple options. Is the pasture continuing to be heavily irrigated because horses will once again be in that area, or just because the owners like a green pasture? The heavy watering probably fights your efforts as well as attracts these ants. The RIFA is a tropical ant, and it survives in arid climates when it can find water available. If the watering can be discontinued it could help prevent the ants. Heavy water also will degrade pesticides more quickly, and add to that your summer heat in AZ and I doubt you get more than a few days of residual effect from most insecticides. Talstar granules have proven to be fairly effective against ants, and are touted to be less repellent than many other pyrethroids, so they could be worth the try.

The newer families of chemistry that are definitely non-repellent still seem not to be labeled for fire ants. How nice if they were, and if a good transfer effect could be attributed to them, so we can hope for the future. However, you do have microencapsulated products like Fenvastar Ecocap, CyKick, Demand, or Onslaught, and these sometimes reduce repellency while at the same time impinge on the passing ants better than other products. The label on the Talstar PL is pretty specific about treating for fire ants, stating that irrigating before application is needed, and that one method of treatment is to sprinkle 1/2 cup of granules around each mound and water it in heavily, using enough water to soak through the top of the mound and down into the cavities below. Doing it this way would be pretty time consuming and water-heavy, but if the goal is to eliminate the entire colony it should be done.


I always hate to think only in terms of pesticide use, but RIFA is a different beast, and given its nasty health menace there is a sense of urgency about its control. Non-chemical methods of RIFA control would be terribly limited, which leaves you with the need for continual treatments over the years. One other consideration would be the use on what is considered a “pasture” – i.e. a livestock area. The Talstar PL label does not specifically mention this kind of site, either for use or to prohibit its use. The label does allow the product for use in “perimeter areas”, but you would need to ensure it could legally be used there if that is designated as pasture. Some of the fire ant baits, such as Siege, Distance, Award, and Extinguish are labeled for fields and pastures, so you are okay for sure with these materials.

Extinguish Plus Fire Ant Bait - 1 lbExtinguish Plus Fire Ant Bait – 1 lb

Mr. Pest Control

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Date: Saturday, 2. January 2010 16:20
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